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What To Do If Your Newborn Won't Sleep

Having a newborn isn’t always an easy experience. One of the most frustrating aspects you might have as a new parent is having a baby that does not want to sleep. Not only does your baby stay awake, but then you have to stay awake. In the end, no one is happy. However, there are some tips and tricks to help get your baby to finally get to sleep!

What Time Should My Baby Sleep?

Knowing when your baby should go to bed can solve a bunch of problems. Research shows that the average bedtime for a newborn is around 9:30pm, but that will actually decrease as the infant gets older to around 8:30pm or earlier.

While it is important to get your child to bed around this time, you should look for clues to know when they are ready for bed. While a newborn can’t openly communicate with you, and you can’t with them, they can show you what they want and how they feel. Allowing your child to stay up too late, or trying to get them to go to bed too early can lead to some of the restless problems you are experiencing.

If your child is fighting falling asleep for 30-60 minutes, showing no signs of being tired when you put them down to bed, or wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning fully awake, then it is probably too early. Try pushing bedtime back in small increments over the next couple of nights until you find the right time. 

If your child is moody or falling asleep during the day, taking extended naps (such as 2 hours), or showing signs of being very tired when it’s time for bed, then it could be too late for bedtime. Try making bedtime earlier in small increments of time to try and find the sweet spot. It is not a good habit to have your baby always be overly tired before bed. They will generally sleep longer if they are put to bed before reaching the cranky tired stage.

Remember, science and research gives you ideas of generally ideal times, but your baby is your baby. Learn what time works best for him or her.

What Bedtime Routine Should I Be Following?

Now that you have a better understanding of when might be the best times to get your newborn to sleep, let’s talk about how to go about doing it.

People at any age are creatures of habit, and a baby is no different. They will start making habits of their own, but they will also learn when exposed to them. This includes bedtime routines. While every baby is different, this is a good starting place to give you some ideas. You might need to change up some steps to see what works best for your little one.

We have covered what to do when your baby is fussy in a previous post, and a lot of that can also help at the beginning of your routine. Your baby is very used to the “sights and sounds” of the womb. Replicating that is one of the best ways to relax and comfort your baby. 

Dim or turn off the lights.

This will replicate the darkness that your baby is used to. Even as adults, we know it is harder to fall asleep or stay asleep with light. You may want to invest in some blackout curtains, especially during those summer nights when it seems like the sun will never go down.

Turn on white noise.

Or at least some type of noise generator (or even a fan) that will set the auditory setting. Your baby is used to a lot of noise from the womb. Even when you were sleeping, your body was making noises! Silence is strange for a baby at first.

Don't forget to swaddle.

Swaddling is a good next step to replicate the physical aspect of the womb. Here is a good video on how to swaddle your baby if you are unsure how to do so.

Rock-a-bye baby.

The last step would be a gentle rocking. Motions like that will help get your baby sleepy. Still to this day, car rides put me to sleep! So, I can assure you it works!

It will take about 6-8 weeks for your baby to start being able to pick up on routines, but consistency is key! Doing this every night will give the best results, and is necessary to get the habit to stick. Think about how you learn the words to a song: you don’t sing it once or twice and have it memorized. It takes time doing it over and over again. Consistency is key.

How Long Until All of This Starts Working?

This may seem like a lot to do, but it will become a routine you get used to very easily. Once you find out when your baby likes to sleep and get a routine going that you and your baby both like and can follow easily, then you should start seeing results in about 1-2 weeks.

Keep in mind that it will take some time to figure out everything in the beginning because your baby has their own personality: when to have your baby sleep, lighting, noise, and so on. Nothing about this is instantaneous, but repetition and consistency will lead to wonderful results. 

I Have Tried Everything, but My Baby Still Won’t Sleep!

So you’ve tried it all, but nothing is working. Now what? It might be time to consult your baby’s doctor. While highly unlikely, there could be something that you just can’t see that a doctor may be able to diagnose or identify.

Don’t Forget About Yourself!

If your baby is not sleeping, you are not either. If you get grumpy or irritated, it won’t be the best environment for either of you. Take turns with your partner so you can get some rest. Remember that you both share the responsibility. If that is not an option, you might have to call on your parents or in-laws for help! Chances are, they will want to help. They are also pros! I mean, they raised you!

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